…we nearly died as bandits starved, tortured, dehumanised us – Freed pupils
This came almost two weeks after armed gang kidnapped them from the boarding school.
The abducted students and staff from Government Science Secondary School Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State were released by bandits on Saturday morning.
The children where also released from a location close to where the fifty-three abductees were released a week ago.
Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger received the 24 Kagara students freed after their abduction by gunmen for 10 days.
Six staff of the Government Science College and eight relations, abducted by the gunmen, were also received by the governor.
They were all abducted on February 17.
Bello clarified the number of students and staff of the college abducted by the bandits.
He said they were released at about 4 a.m Saturday.
One of the 24 pupils, who regained their freedom on Saturday, Suleiman Lawal, said given the kind of suffering he experienced in the bandits’ den, it was unlikely he would return to the same school.
The SS3 student said, “We suffered so much. I had never faced this kind of situation in all my life. I don’t think I will like to go back to that school again.”
His colleague, Mahmood Mohammed, described the experience as hellish, saying he never thought he would regain freedom.
“I faced hell; it was not easy, I did not know I would come back. I had a headache while I was in the bush but they didn’t take care of me. They (the bandits) were many. The experience is terrible; I am not feeling well,” Mohammed said.
Another SS3 pupil, Abubakar Sidi, said the bandits starved them for several hours, adding that after they eventually fed them, they began to beat them.
Sidi said pupils who identified themselves as children of policemen or military men were even more ruthlessly beaten by the bandits.
He said, “We couldn’t get any food to eat, from 1 0’ clock till night, but they later fed us; and after feeding us, they began to ask for our fathers’ occupations and beat us. Anyone who said his father was a policeman or a soldier was asked to come out and was given extra beating. They beat us based on the work our fathers do. They beat me so mercilessly so much that I was wishing to die.
“The experience was too bad; the forest was horrific. They fed us beans every day, just as they tortured us.”